The purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that the patients with chronic fatigue who have the highest number of medically unexplained physical symptoms over their lifetime would also have the highest prevalence of current and lifetime affective and anxiety disorders, lifetime affective symptoms, and the most functional disability. A further goal was to use this information to modify the current case definition to better identify a subgroup of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome who are less likely to have psychiatric illness.
Two hundred eighty-five consecutive patients with chronic fatigue were interviewed with the National Institute of Mental Health Diagnostic Interview Schedule and completed four self-rating questionnaires measuring psychologic distress, functional disability, and the tendency to amplify symptoms. Based on previously published data, patients were divided into four groups with a progressively higher number of lifetime medically unexplained physical symptoms. The prevalence of current and lifetime psychiatric disorders, lifetime psychologic symptoms, and extent of functional impairment was then compared in these four groups of patients.
The prevalence of current and lifetime psychiatric diagnosis and lifetime depressive symptoms increased linearly with the number of lifetime physical symptoms that the patient experienced. The extent of impairment in activities of daily living and the tendency to amplify symptoms also increased linearly with the number of medically unexplained physical symptoms.
The patients with the highest numbers of medically unexplained physical symptoms had extraordinarily high rates of current and lifetime psychiatric disorders. These data suggest that the current case definition for chronic fatigue syndrome inadvertently selects for patients with the highest prevalence of lifetime psychiatric diagnoses. A recommendation based on these results is to modify the case criteria for chronic fatigue syndrome to include patients with fatigue and few physical symptoms and to identify and consider excluding patients with high numbers of physical complaints.(Arch Intern Med. 1992;152:1604-1609)
Thank you for submitting a comment on this article. It will be reviewed by JAMA Internal Medicine editors. You will be notified when your comment has been published. Comments should not exceed 500 words of text and 10 references.
Do not submit personal medical questions or information that could identify a specific patient, questions about a particular case, or general inquiries to an author. Only content that has not been published, posted, or submitted elsewhere should be submitted. By submitting this Comment, you and any coauthors transfer copyright to the journal if your Comment is posted.
* = Required Field
Disclosure of Any Conflicts of Interest*
Indicate all relevant conflicts of interest of each author below, including all relevant financial interests, activities, and relationships within the past 3 years including, but not limited to, employment, affiliation, grants or funding, consultancies, honoraria or payment, speakers’ bureaus, stock ownership or options, expert testimony, royalties, donation of medical equipment, or patents planned, pending, or issued. If all authors have none, check "No potential conflicts or relevant financial interests" in the box below. Please also indicate any funding received in support of this work. The information will be posted with your response.
Some tools below are only available to our subscribers or users with an online account.
Download citation file:
Web of Science® Times Cited: 87
Customize your page view by dragging & repositioning the boxes below.
More Listings atJAMACareerCenter.com >
Enter your username and email address. We'll send you a link to reset your password.
Enter your username and email address. We'll send instructions on how to reset your password to the email address we have on record.
Athens and Shibboleth are access management services that provide single sign-on to protected resources. They replace the multiple user names and passwords necessary to access subscription-based content with a single user name and password that can be entered once per session. It operates independently of a user's location or IP address. If your institution uses Athens or Shibboleth authentication, please contact your site administrator to receive your user name and password.